How to Treat Dandruff
Many think that dandruff reflects poor hygiene. On the contrary, it does not. It is not about your hair or how often you wash it. Instead, it is about the condition of your skin on your scalp. That dry, itchy scalp may not be serious or contagious, but it can be very uncomfortable. Those flakes on your shoulders may be harmless but can embarrassing. If you are affected by dandruff in your daily life, then it is good to know how to treat dandruff.
So, how do you treat dandruff? It differs from one person to another. Your dandruff may be mild, which can be treated with a gentle shampoo. In extreme cases, you may need medical shampoo.
Knowing How to Treat Dandruff: What Is It?
Dandruff is a common condition of scalp flaking caused by inflammation. This inflammation is driven by our skin’s reaction to a certain yeast called Malassezia. It lives on everyone’s scalp without causing any problems. However, some people’s immune systems may overreact to the yeast, leading to inflammation and excessive growth of skin cells.
Dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis, which is a skin condition that causes redness and scaly patches. It usually affects the scalp, but it can also develop on the oily areas of the body like the face, upper chest and back.
When babies develop this condition, it is called cradle cap. It typically develops within the first few weeks of life and gradually disappears without treatment within six months.
What Are the Symptoms of Dandruff?
Have you experienced fine, white skin flakes that come off the scalp? Those are the signs of dandruff. Symptoms also include scalp itching and redness. The signs and symptoms may be more severe if you are stressed or sick. Other factors can worsen these symptoms. Pollution, extreme heat or cold, some hairstyling aids and certain skin conditions, such as eczema.
Ways to Treat Dandruff
Your dandruff can be managed and treated with the right anti-dandruff shampoo and the right washing technique.
For your anti-dandruff shampoo, you should look for active ingredients such as pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, salicylic acid and coal tar. Some of these active ingredients stay on your scalp after bathing and work as protection for your scalp in preventing dandruff. You may need to experiment a bit to find the one that your scalp reacts to the best. You can also look for added ingredients such as shea butter, glycerin and aloe vera that moisturize your scalp.
Getting an additional anti-dandruff conditioner is also advisable. It is best to use an equivalent anti-dandruff conditioner in order to keep the active ingredients after rinsing.
How People With Dandruff Should Wash Their Hair
Anti-dandruff shampoo is not effective without the proper washing technique. Rub your shampoo into your scalp using your fingertips. Let it sit on your hair and scalp for at least five minutes. Rinse off the shampoo afterward.
If you are trying an anti-dandruff shampoo for the first time, start by washing at least twice a week. Assess the feel and look of your scalp and hair. In case you do not see any results, work it in for up to three to four days. You might even need to use it daily for best results.
If treatment is not successful after a month of using at least two different anti-dandruff shampoos, then it would be the best to consult your doctor at this time. Also, consider going to a dermatologist.
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Home Remedies for Dandruff
While there are plenty of over the counter products to treat dandruff, you can also try effective natural remedies at home.
Tea Tree Oil
One of the most popular remedies is to apply tea tree oil to your scalp. It has powerful anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the symptoms of dandruff. It moisturizes your hair and scalp, unclogs hair follicles and nourishes the roots of your hair. This helps in resolving dryness and itchiness, as well as controlling excessive oil production.
You can apply a small amount of tea tree oil to the scaly patches on your scalp. You can also add a few drops of this oil to your regular shampoo. If tea tree oil causes allergic reactions on your scalp, discontinue its use.
Another home remedy that is known for its multiple health benefits is coconut oil. It helps improve skin hydration and prevent dryness.
Olive oil contains essential nutrients and antioxidants, which makes it an excellent choice for hair oil. It moisturizes a dry scalp and soothes flaking. Olive oil also cleanses away dirt and excess oils on the scalp. It loosens dead skin so that it does not settle into your hair follicles.
A quick and readily available remedy to help treat dandruff is baking soda. It acts as a gentle exfoliant, removes dead skin cells, and reduces scaling and itchiness. Just apply baking soda directly to your wet hair during bathing. Massage it onto your scalp and let it sit for one to two minutes, then continue shampooing your hair as usual.
Your eating habits can also help prevent dandruff from building up. Omega 3 fatty acids are vital to skin health and can help reduce inflammation. Eat fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Other omega 3 rich foods include flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts.
Eating foods rich in probiotics is also a great addition to your diet. This can enhance immune function that helps your body fight against fungal infections that can cause dandruff.
Stress Free Living
These shampoos, oils and foods are not effective without a lifestyle change. Take your time to relax and manage your stress. Stress impairs our immune system and worsens any skin condition, including dandruff.
When to See a Doctor
Dandruff may not be the only reason why you have an itchy scalp. If you are suffering from dandruff all year long, these may indicate skin diseases like psoriasis, eczema, or even a severe fungal infection.
Consult your doctor if the itching does not stop and your scalp becomes red and swollen. Doctors can examine your scalp and prescribe ointments, cream, lotion and shampoos. Prescription oral medications may even be necessary if there is an underlying condition that needs to be addressed.
- Healthline (Dandruff: What Your Itchy Scalp Is Trying to Tell You)
- MedicalNewsToday (How to treat dandruff)
- Australian Bodycare (Causes, Treatment and Prevention of Dandruff)
- Mayo Clinic (Dandruff)
- WebMD (Dandruff: Learn The Basics)
- The Cut (The Best Dandruff Shampoos for Every Type of Hair)
- Prevention (7.10 Best Dandruff Shampoos to Cleanse a Flaky Scalp, According to Dermatologists)
- Redken (What is Dandruff? Why Do I Have It & How Do I Get Rid of It?)
- Healthline (Seborrheic Eczema and Crib Cap)
- Healthline (9 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Dandruff Naturally)